© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Fleet Has Fans, Should Zion Williamson Play, What About Bryce Harper?

What I learned this weekend in sports

Rich Herrera
February 25, 2019 - 10:57 am

Here is what I learned this weekend in sports and life ... 

The San Diego Fleet has fans, real fans. I covered my second Alliance of American Football game this weekend at SDCCU Stadium. I think everyone has acknowledged that the AAF is legit football, not NFL quality, but faster than college football. What I wonder is, are there real fans for the league and our local team, the San Diego Fleet?

The home opener was an odd day. Pouring rain made it hard to gauge the interest in the Fleet.  Last weekend's game occurred under clear Sunday night skies. Without having to huddle in the concourse trying to stay dry, San Diego football fans were able to really see what the AAF is all about.  

There was energy in the stadium, organic energy created in the stands not by prompts on the scoreboard or piped in from speakers. Mike Martz talked about it after the game, saying that he could hear the crowd noise even though his headset that covers both ears.  

Why are San Diego football fans becoming fans of the Fleet? We have met many different fans over the last few weeks while attending games. Some are straight up football fans - pee wee, high school, college, NFL - they just love the game. But more and more I meet football fans looking for a way to fill the void left by Dean Spanos.  

The tailgaters are showing up early and enjoying themselves, just like they've done for decades for 1 PM Chargers kickoffs. Many choose to tailgate in the same exact spot where they did for NFL games. Many of the parties are being attended by the same season ticket holders that were there for the Bolts games.  

It's not marketing that is bringing these folks out to tailgate each week.  It's friendships and camaraderie that is driving these early Fleet fans. Good for the AAF for filling the void the NFL was foolish enough to leave.



Let me ask you a question: did you notice the "A" in the AAF logo or were you seeing the football in it?  


I am hearing more and more people say kids should skip playing college sports after watching the blow out of Duke's Zion Williamson's shoe.  

Yes, college sports are big business, no doubt about it. The schools bring in billions of dollars in football and the NCAA Basketball Tourney. It's not a new idea. We see football players skip bowl games to avoid injuries leading up to the draft.  

One thing I would like to remind everyone is to be careful what you wish for. Ok, let's see what would happen if the biggest and best athletes skipped college. On the school's side, the money would evaporate because some of the interest would go away.  Not all of it, but some of it.

If you are an alumnus or a fan, you will still "Fight On for Old SC" no matter what, but the shine would fade, and fade quickly.  

Think I am wrong? What happened when the College Football Playoff began? All the non-CFP bowl games became insignificant.  Even the Rose Bowl lost some of its luster.  

I will admit the coaches are paid handsomely for their work, and some are grotesquely compensated for working with kids who don't draw a paycheck. What would happen to those players freed from the yoke of the NCAA?  

Well, for one thing, you would never know their names. Why? Because they won't have college athletics to help build their brand, showcasing them for their future pro careers. They also won't have those highly paid coaches teaching them the game and getting them ready for the draft. All the trainers, uniforms, travel, and facilities are now off the table, so good luck preparing for and paying for personal training and staging games to get ready for the draft.  

We have the minors in baseball and the G League in basketball. Tell me, would you rather hone your skills in Rapid City in front of 500 people or be a rockstar at Duke?

I hear the panic in the voices of national media over the fact that Manny Machado landed in San Diego and Bryce Harper is still unsigned.  

A quick reminder: it only takes one.  

That is the mantra of Scott Boras (Harper’s agent) - It only takes one owner to step up and say, "yes, I will give you whatever you want to sign here."  

This isn't Boras’ first time at the rodeo and it won't be his last. His toughest fight this go-round is that the marketplace is changing and the market factors that are causing the changes are beyond his control. But make no mistake, Boras is in control of the situation and he will eventually get Harper exactly what he wants. Don't believe me? Ask the Yankees how he got them to take back A-Rod.  

Personal Plug for our YouTube videos. 

If you have a moment, take a look at our new YouTube channel from The Fan.  

We have uploaded our "Places to Eat in SD - Fan Approved" videos to our channel. Take a look and let me know what you think.